Personal Recollections of Early Melbourne and Victoria Part 3
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As I am not writing for history, so as to study completeness in my account, but only of personal observations and recollections, I shall not do more than give a very slight sketch of the emigratory particulars of this family, and my excuse is that these data are so far personal as having been told me direct by one or other of the family. The story is striking, and our descendants may look back with surpa.s.sing interest to the Romulus and Remus of a future Rome which, in the possibilities of modern progress, may exceed that of the past. The father, Mr. Thomas Henty, of Suss.e.x, England, took the resolution to emigrate, with his family, to the "Swan River," as the present Western Australia was then called. In 1829 he sent his eldest and two younger sons there, with suitable servants and supplies, intending to follow with the rest. These pioneers declared against the Swan, and advised their father to go to Launceston instead, to which place they themselves also went. Arrived all there in 1831, a new disappointment awaited the family. No grant of land could be had, as in the case of the Swan, where they had 84,000 acres. This grant system had been abolished only a fortnight before their arrival. They had now to rent their farms, and the prospects, therefore, were discouraging. They were unable even to effect an exchange for their Swan River grant.
This disappointment led to a search, begun in 1832, under the lead of Edward, the second son, who twice traversed the seas between Portland and Spencer Gulf, examining the aspect and promise of the country. The result was always in favour of Portland, where he landed on one occasion, confirming all impressions by actual inspection ash.o.r.e. He, therefore, resolved on a settlement here. In his second expedition he took his father with him, as the latter had expressed the wish to see for himself the Swan River grant before finally abandoning it. The party, having reached the Swan, found that what they had got was "sand, not land," and so it was finally given up.
Edward, who was the prime adventurer of the party, now got ready to settle at Portland Bay. He chartered a small schooner, "The Thistle", loading her with stores and live stock, and with selections of seed, fruit trees, vegetables, etc., part of them bought from Fawkner, who had then a market garden on Windmill Hill, near Launceston, besides keeping the Cornwall Hotel there; and with these he sailed in October, 1834. In two days they were within twenty-five miles of their destination, when a storm drove them back to King's Island. Six times successively they were thus driven back, losing a good many of their live stock, and it was only after thirty-four days that they effected their landing. The work of colonization began at once. "The Thistle" returned to Launceston for fresh supplies and additional colonists, and returned this second time with Francis Henty, the youngest of the family, who landed at Portland on 13th December, within twenty-four days of his brother. Edward was then twenty-four years of age, and his brother only eighteen. This is the brief but momentous story of the founding of Victoria.
Mr. Francis Henty has given a most amusing account of the meeting between his party and that of Major (afterwards Sir Thomas) Mitch.e.l.l, who, in exploring "Australia Felix," in 1836, came, in great surprise, upon the Henty settlement at Portland. The story reads now like the highest romance of adventurous exploration. The Mitch.e.l.l intruders, five in number, were at once regarded as bushrangers, and a defence promptly organized. The fire-arms were limited to an old musket, which was loaded to the very muzzle, to be ready for a grand discharge. Then as to the Mitch.e.l.l party, even after they were relieved of their first fears, for they too had taken the others to be "no better than they should be,"
they exercised a measure of reserve, as though doubtful of their new friends' respectability. Mutual suspicions, however, being at last dismissed, the travellers were supplied with the stores they much wanted, and, in return, they gave such a favourable account of the pastures of the Wannon Valley as to induce Mr. Edward Henty subsequently to remove a part of the flocks there, and to establish the homestead where, as I have already stated, I enjoyed in my Western Victorian travels the squatting hospitalities.
Let me add just one more incident of the Henty family, one personal to myself, but in quite a different direction from the above. Once, on a special occasion, I met the banker, Charles, who had stuck to his profession at Launceston, instead of adventuring across the Straits with his brothers. Besides his quiet banking vocation, he was, I think, the portliest of the family, which may be the explanation. The occasion was a public dinner to the Anti-Transportation League delegation, sent from Melbourne, in 1852, to stir up the cause at the Van Diemen's Land fountain head of the common evil, and of which delegation my lately deceased old friend Lauchlan Mackinnon and myself were regarded as the heads. Mackinnon, like many another such vigorous Highlander, as he then was, could never take a subject of deep interest to himself quietly. We had had a sample of him already at Hobart, where the feeling as to our mission was by no means clear, both from the natural touchiness of convict connection or descent, and from that still considerable section of colonial employers and traders who thought that the ledger and its profit and loss account had at least an equal right to be heard in the question as any other so-called higher interest. The ground, slippery enough at Hobart, was supposed to be still more treacherous at Launceston. Had not Edward Wilson, of the thoroughly Mackinnonized Melbourne "Argus", been but a little before nearly mobbed by the furious Anti-Antis of this place, to his utter surprise and astonishment at his own importance, and been only saved, in life or limb perhaps, by old Jock Sinclair, who was timely on the spot, and who dexterously led him, by a roundabout, to safety within the departing steamer for Melbourne?
In short, a row was more than half expected from the Mackinnon speech, and as this was undesirable, for good reasons to all sides of Launceston society, Mr. Henty resolved to prevent it, and did so most successfully by a very adroit but not unworthy trick. He took occasion to speak just before the Mackinnon avalanche was to come on. Introducing Mackinnon and commending his straightforward honesty in this matter, and so on, he said that some such people could not take even a good cause in moderation; but that these defects, if he might so call them, were more easily seen than remedied, and that all kindly consideration must be made in the case. I fear I am not literal as to the identical words, although I heard them, but I have given the purport. Poor Mackinnon, as he afterwards laughingly pleaded, what could he do under the cold douche of such a wet blanket? He made the smallest and quietest speech of his life upon a great and stirring subject.
SOME INTERJECTA IN RE BATMAN, PIONEER OF THE PORT PHILLIP SETTLEMENT.
Mr. Edward Henty, from Launceston, first entered the future Victoria in 1834 by her remote portal, Portland Bay, and thus became the founder of the colony. In the following year, John Batman, of Hobart, sailing from the same stirring little Launceston, entered by the central and grander portal of the Port Phillip Heads, and was thus the pioneer of Port Phillip settlement; for we must really turn blundering Collins, with his abortive doings in 1803-4, out of the running. I never saw Batman, as he died the year before my arrival, so that, according to my rule, I have nothing to say of him. But I must mention an incident occurring shortly before my date, and characteristic of the times, namely, the raffling for Batman's old and well smoke-begrimed pipe. This was at the famous Lamb Inn, a little wooden edifice on the north side of West Collins-street, opposite the Market-square, and fronting a small cliff which the street levelling there had left for future disposal. There were thirty tickets at a pound each, and the fortunate winner was to compensate the disappointed by standing champagne all round. I was once in the Lamb Inn ere its glories had quite expired, as might be inferred from a charge of 4 s.h.i.+llings for a bottle of cider, for which I had called in support of the house, and to while away time in waiting for a friend. I had to share it with two others who happened to be in the room, the waiter having promptly filled the three tumblers he had brought, without even "Robert's" professional stereotype of "by your leave," the tumblers, too, being as promptly emptied without any ceremonious bother about acknowledgment. The Lamb Inn lived a brief s.p.a.ce longer, but utterly bereft of its old position in the revels and extravagance of every kind of the young settlement, and was finally levelled out of existence in company with the "cliff" at its back.
But I have to do also with nearer and dearer connections of Batman than his tobacco pipe. I have to record the marriage, during 1844, of two of his daughters, the elder, already a widow, Mrs. McKinney, to my pleasant friend Fennell, as I have previously mentioned, and, happily, resulting in a family of descendants to the Port Phillip founder, and the younger to one of the two squatter brothers Collyer. The latter event, which came off at the hospitable and comfortable homestead of old John Aitken of that ilk (I mean of Mount Aitken), was a grand gala time to a very wide circle. Guests, by the score together, trooped up from town and country, headed, in the former direction, by Andrew Russell, then second mayor of Melbourne, in succession to my friend Condell, and in the latter by his cheery and ever-smiling uncle, Peter Inglis, of Ingliston, a great station homestead in the comparisons of those early times, and once, as Peter liked to tell, taken for a town, perhaps in the gloaming hours, by a bush traveller when he inquired of one of the domestics, to her great amus.e.m.e.nt, the name of the street he had confusingly got into.
Mrs. Aitken, as literally as by courtesy the good wife of the house, and then in the full charm of her beauty and strong youth (now Mrs. Kaye, and sadly changed in both respects), went busily about, her young family at her skirts, administering plenty and preserving order, while, towards genial eve, her good man occupied a quiet corner, indisputable king for the nonce of the toddy race. The night accommodations were a difficulty, although not a few, like the host himself, were in no great want. I and a score or two of others turned into a wool loft, where a number of little mattresses, mostly of a pro re nata kind, were provided, into one of which I was soon ensconced and fast asleep. But well on, as I guessed, in the small hours we were all awoke by loud and burly noise in the loft, proceeding, as we soon recognized, from two Anakims of the party, Isaac Buchanan and John Porter, who seemed on the eve of a struggle for a Mace or Nolan belt. Porter had retired peacefully with me, but Buchanan had been vieing in the toddy corner with his host, and when inevitably knocked under--for the other had not yet been limited by his doctor to that woman's wash, as he called it, sparkling moselle--he had contrived to find the common loft. It is said, of unpractised topers at any rate, that, after an extra indulgence, they either see nothing or see double. Whichever it was with Buchanan, he insisted on berthing for the night in Porter's occupied nest, while the latter, after standing the all-round chaff for a little, got savage and threatened war.
Buchanan's sight getting by-and-by clearer, the remainder of the night was, happily, peace. But it was not for long, as almost with the dawn our host, alive as if nothing out of the usual had happened, woke us up with the invitation to finish the champagne by way of refresher after all the toils and toddy we had gone through.
DR. THOMSON, OF GEELONG.
This earliest amongst the early of Port Phillip, whose active form flitted about its sh.o.r.es ere the memorable year 1835 had expired, might have come in for a full separate sketch had I been thrown more with him, so as to have sufficient personal data. But, although I met him at times, he lived at Geelong, fifty miles away from Melbourne. I have put him under this sub-heading, in the Batman interjecta, because, as his daughter, Mrs. Henry Creswick, told me, it was Batman's representations to him of the land of promise to the north that induced him to follow the early tide with his flocks and his family--the latter consisting of his wife and one only child, the daughter above alluded to. She still survives, in her pleasant residence, situated in the fitly named Creswick-street, Hawthorn.
The doctor was one of the most active of the colonists, both politically and generally. He was chiefly concerned in establis.h.i.+ng the Geelong Corporation, of which he was several times Mayor, and he was most actively interested in the early representation of the district in the Sydney a.s.sembly. He sat there as one of the district members prior to the "separation" session of 1851, and it was at his instance that the House made an exhaustive inquiry into the condition of the aboriginal natives. In the separation session elections his party was outvoted by the squatting or anti-democratic element; but none the less the former in Geelong deputed the doctor to accompany the elected members, in order to keep a watch upon their doings. The case had its comic aspect, but as the doctor and I were on the same side of the politics of the day, he was most useful to me in our common effort to secure a due share of representation for the ma.s.s of the people, as intended by the Imperial Government. The aim of the reigning regime was to continue their power by means of an electoral distribution which was to secure a majority of Crown nominees and Crown tenants in the two future sections of the old colony.
The doctor, as I said, went over with the earliest from the Hobart side of the island, quitting his land grant, which was the last under that system, and was got for him by his friend Governor Arthur--a privilege for which, as I have said, the Henty family arrived just too late.
Amongst the live stock he took over was Miss Thomson's pony, which was the first of the equines landed at Port Phillip. Its owner was then a very young girl. She and her mother landed towards the end of 1835, and were the first ladies of "the settlement." The family pitched a tent almost under a magnificent gum tree, whose stump, covered with ivy, still exists close to the Cathedral at Prince's Bridge. But shortly after several of the young men of the settlement, in order to provide them better accommodation, collected some boards and built them a hut lower down the river bank. With the two places the Thomsons were able to dispense hospitalities, their guests including Messrs. Gellibrand and Hesse, Mr. James Smith, and Mr. Mackillop. It used to be said that "the settlement" was in the habit of going to tea with Mrs. Thomson.
This brings us into 1836. The next year came the officials in charge from Sydney, who included Mr. R.S. Webb, as Collector of Customs, whose daughter, Annie, was the first white child born in the settlement (with, however, some dispute as to a blacksmith's child having been the first), and who was afterwards married to my late friend, Colin Mackinnon, younger brother of the better known Lauchlan. Dr. Thomson used to read prayers to the little settlement in a rude structure upon the ground now occupied by St. James's Church. Afterwards he removed to Kardinia, Geelong, as his live stock had been landed there, and this place he finally made his home.
From these lively and mixed events of our early society, let me now turn to another subject, which is neither less lively nor less mixed than its predecessors--the subject, namely, of:
JOHN PASCOE FAWKNER, FATHER OF MELBOURNE.
"The force of his own merit makes his way."
"Well, I am, not fair; and therefore I pray the G.o.ds to make me honest."
--As You Like It.
"He's honest, on mine honour."
"He hath a heart as sound as a bell, and his tongue is the clapper; for what his heart thinks, his tongue speaks."
--Much Ado About Nothing.
"For now he lives in fame, though not in life."
If circ.u.mstances won't make a poet, as genius contemptuously a.s.serts, nor make up for blood in a horse, as even the stable boy swears to, they are at times marvellously effective in making, and, for the matter of that, also in unmaking men. So might we say with regard to the well-known subject of this sketch, who, arriving amongst us with the earliest, and within the repellent surrounding of an evil repute, yet under different surroundings and favouring circ.u.mstances outlived all traducements, whether true or otherwise, and after a long, practical, and singularly useful career, died in the full regard of his adopted country. The unanimity of dislike and moral depreciation with which he was regarded by his Tasmanian fellows was not indeed without a certain share of reason or excuse. That he was the son of a convict ought not, of course, to prejudice him in these Christian days, when the sins of the fathers are not to be visited upon the sons even to the first generation. His father arrived with Collins's prisoner party, and the boy, John Pascoe, then eleven years old, was sent with his parent--for not seldom were wives or children thus sent with the convicts, to ameliorate by such a touch of nature the hard features of a society of adult vice, much as Hogarth, in some of his masterpieces of the human woes or vices of his time, gives, in striking contrast, a foreground of maternal affection, or of children at play in the artless innocence of their looks and ways.
But he was probably neither a pretty nor an interesting boy; for as a man he was of the very plainest, with a short figure, always negligently "put on," a rough, mannerless way, and a voice husky and hoa.r.s.e, although redeemed at times into an approach to commanding an audience, when he was strongly stirred in some exciting cause. Some people have no patience to subdue natural antipathies in such cases, and these people would, as well-known scripture (with some transposition of the idea) tells us, be apt to be most plentiful "in his own country." But, again, Fawkner was himself a convict. Yes, but for what? Certainly if a man so notorious in after life had committed any very disparaging crime it must have been as notorious as his name. But I never heard anything distinctive beyond that he had, for something or other, pa.s.sed under the Caudine Forks of the Van Diemen's Land Criminal Courts. Inevitably his early upbringing was in low a.s.sociations, where, probably, ties of friendly feeling survived, as to which he might have said with the bard of Avon--"I am not of that feather to shake off my friend when he must need me" (Timon of Athens). My impression was that he had been convicted of harbouring, or aiding to escape, some who had broken the law, whatever more that may have meant, for, with his pluck, he was probably little troubled about niceties of fine feeling, and, thus accoutred, Providence dropped the man amongst altogether different circ.u.mstances and a.s.sociations in his new location.
I had much to do with Fawkner, especially after he and I met in our young colony's first Legislature, and after I sufficiently knew him, so as to allow for the rough exterior of his nature, I never had but one opinion of the man. That opinion was, that throughout every condition of the considerable s.p.a.ce of his later life, whether in health or sickness, strength or weakness, prosperity or adversity--for, at first at least, he, like many others, was not prosperous in golden-fleeced and golden Victoria--he toiled, late and early, for what, in his honest judgment, was for the good of his colony; and with a singleness of purpose which was not excelled--was not, I think, equalled, to my knowledge at least--by any other in that colony.
He seemed to make an ascent under the exhilarating circ.u.mstances of his new and increasingly responsible position, and to have the consciousness of a great mission, which nerved him to surmount all that was dubious in his earlier career. Nor was he behind in less pretentious ways. I never once heard of any mean or over-reaching act of his, even in the smallest matters. He once told me, in his prosperous days, with much becoming feeling, and as an incident he could never forget, that when quite broken in fortune, he had received, as unasked as unexpected, a most timely pecuniary help from Mr. Henry Moor, the well-known solicitor. The two were, I think, at hearty variance across the political hedge; the more honour to both.
We have seen that he showed pluck in his earlier life, even in bad a.s.sociations; and he displayed the same under better auspices later on.
His action with a certain gravely suspected Commissioner of Crown Lands was a good ill.u.s.tration. This high functionary, who, in those pre-const.i.tutional times, was practically an irresponsible Caesar over a vast estate of dependent Crown tenants, whose interests might in any case be seriously jeopardized by any unfairness, and who, therefore, like the wife of his prototype, should be even above suspicion, was accused by rumours, of no slight noise or breadth, of unfaithfulness to his charge, and in the grossest and most mercenary of forms. Even with the clearest case it was anything but a.s.suring to attack such a man in those days of authority. But Fawkner's bite was too deep for any laissez faire cure, and so, nolens volens, the Commissioner had to defend or retrieve his character. The verdict of a farthing damages, at which amount the jury estimated that character in the case, was complete justification to Fawkner, and laid the whole Province under lasting obligation to him for a most important public service.
Another of his more prominent services was upon the first Gold Commission, 1854-5, summoned hastily together by the Governor, Sir Charles Hotham, under the surprise, not unmixed with consternation, caused by the Ballarat riot, an incident which, in some of its aspects, such as the stockade structure, deserved rather the graver name of rebellion. Already in his 63rd year, in broken health, and certainly the weakest physically of the members.h.i.+p, he was the most active of all, ever running full tilt into every abuse or fault or complaint that might help to explain this unwonted, and, indeed, utterly purposeless and stupid incident of a British community. In my capacity as chairman, I appreciated Fawkner's untiring, or more properly, unyielding spirit, and under travelling fatigues, too, of no mean trial even to younger men.
For the Colossus of Rhodes, as my energetic friend, Dr. (now Sir Francis) Murphy, was humorously called, on accepting, recently before, the charge of the rutty and miry ways of golden Victoria, had as yet made but feeble progress in his most urgent mission. We learned enough to explain, at least, if not to excuse the miners; and were thus guided to a reconstruction of goldfields administration. This was chiefly in that national element, hitherto utterly absent there, of local representative inst.i.tutions; and the change has since a.s.sured the future from even John Bull's proverbial growling. General McArthur, with a few troops, promptly, but not without considerable bloodshed, ended the sad farce. In view of the very exceptional features of an incident extremely unlikely to occur again, Fawkner and most others of the commission were most decided for a general condonance; and this was agreed to in the report by all except the Official Commissioner, Mr. Wright, who, excusably enough, sided with his official superiors for a treason trial.
But the jury, as might have been antic.i.p.ated, acquitted the prisoners.
One of their leaders, Mr. Peter Lalor, who lost one of his arms in the cause, has since been for many years Speaker of the Victorian a.s.sembly, and as loyal to his Queen as he is genial to his many friends.
When we wound up the Commission's inquiry at Castlemaine, and on the morning of a hot midsummer day embarked upon one of the springless "Cobb and Co's" of the time, with the prospect of ten or twelve hours of terrible jolting before us, poor old Fawkner seemed so much enfeebled that I was in some doubt as to his being landed alive at Melbourne. But, game to the last, he rode uncomplainingly through all; and he lived even a goodly number of years after, but only to do more and more work. Old General Anderson, of early colonial memory, had a habit, quite his own, of saying to the face of anyone whose conduct gave him satisfaction, and in his blunt soldierly way, "Sir, I have a great respect for you." Such an accrediting and not unacceptable declaration he addressed, times more, I think, than once, to Fawkner. Indeed, all cla.s.ses of the colony, from the highest, in which the gallant colonel moved, to the humblest, now alike recognized the veteran who had so long and so well fought for them all. When at last the spirit quitted the worn-out frame, and its well-known form, possibly, even to the last, keeping up still, amongst some few, the lingering dislike of the long past, was to be no more seen amongst us, there seemed but one impulse for the occasion, which fittingly expressed itself in a funeral procession entirely unprecedented in its every aspect. This was not less to the colony's honour than to that of Fawkner. He died on 4th September, 1869. Not the least impressive feature of the funeral, perhaps the most, was the remarkable prayer offered up at the grave by the Reverend Dr. Cairns.
Victoria's most eloquent preacher, in giving the true setting to the life and character of the man, thanked G.o.d, in the name of the colony, for such a life, the influence and example of which could not but be for good to all who were to follow. He has fought bravely for the R.I.P. of the tomb. He rests from his labours, and his works do follow him.
JAMES SIMPSON, FIRST MAGISTRATE OF "THE SETTLEMENT."
"He hath an excellent good name."
--Much Ado About Nothing.
When "The Settlement" began, and when, like the pre-Judges time in Israel, every man did as he pleased, the inevitable inconvenience of that ultra-radical paradise led the small community to seek out a male Deborah, and, with one accord, they made choice of James Simpson, their early fellow-emigrant in the tide from Launceston. Had there been even a much larger society, the choice would probably have been as surely the same, for it would have been difficult indeed to find anyone, who, in the grace and command of natural presence, exceeded this inaugurator of authority in Victoria. His figure, rather tall, shapely, well-developed, surmounted by a n.o.ble head, bald with age, just touching the venerable, and with a genial expression of face, which, however, never descended to levity, although times without number to a smile or slight laugh, he sat erect upon the bench, facile princeps, as though inst.i.tutions were to bend to him, and not he to them. When we entered the little hut-like structure in the middle of the Western Market area, so long Melbourne's only police-office, James Simpson seemed to us as much a part of its fittings as the rude little bench itself; and it was a disappointment not to find him there, as the indispensable complement to the scene, even although better conduct in the community was to be inferred. How so striking, so influence-wielding a man did not get or take a still more leading position than he had was due, perhaps, to some indolence of nature, to a rare and enviable contentment, or to a mixture of both. He took what fell in his way--magistracies, bank directors.h.i.+ps, or what else, and lived unambitiously on his moderate but sufficient means, always in the front social position, and, of course, in universal respect. And how, again, so quiet a spirit adventured across amongst the tag-rags of the earlier Launceston tide, unless indeed under some benevolent inspiration and prescience about the magisterial needs, is a mystery which, although I often conversed with him, I never happened to hear him explain.
DAVID CHARTERIS McARTHUR, FATHER OF VICTORIAN BANKING.
"A man of good repute, carriage, bearing, and estimation."
--Love's Labour Lost.
Almost as early a colonist as Simpson, his intimate friend, his colleague in the Melbourne branch of the Bank of Australasia, of which he was himself general manager, with Simpson as director, McArthur fitly follows the other in this list of early colonial prominents. To the day of his death he held the first position, active or honorary, in Victorian banking. But he was even better known, or at least better regarded, as, par excellence, "mine host" of the early community. During a long life, of which the later and much the larger half was spent in Victoria, there was none who entered more readily, constantly, or acceptably into the varied life of the community. His leisure, such as he had, his means, his fellows.h.i.+p, were at their command. He was geniality personified. But he was a banker, and a banker has duties, and in the ups and downs of colonial business life, he was but too often reminded to that effect. It was quite a sight if you happened to witness the scene with a bank customer, to whom, as to "the state of his account," it was necessary to administer what Mac's countrymen call a "hearing." Often he had to pity victims of circ.u.mstances in the sudden changes of colonial commerce; but "the G.o.ds aboon can only ken" to discriminate impartially in such cases, and duty to the bank must be done. First, the humorous twinkle in the eye sensibly abated, but it still lingered there, unless there must be still stronger stages of the ordeal, to bring the business culprit to reason. But when the last gleam went out, a storm was certainly imminent. The storm, however, swept past on the instant with the provocation. When that eye finally closed, a veritable sunbeam of the colony went out with it.
Mrs. McArthur, who still survives, went hand in hand with her husband.
That they were an attached couple has the complementary ill.u.s.tration of his making her his full heir. As they had no family to divide cares and means, we must blame the less the surpa.s.sing hospitalities that distinguished them. McArthur had really no other fault, unless indeed we must fall back on the general limitation which Adam Smith had to admit even in the excellence of his departed friend Hume; for, after all, a man can be good or perfect only "so far as the nature of human frailty will permit."
CHARLES JOSEPH LA TROBE, C.B., SUPERINTENDENT OF PORT PHILLIP, AND FIRST LIEUTENANT-GOVERNOR OF VICTORIA.
"However G.o.d or fortune cast my lot, There lives or dies...
A loyal, just, and upright gentleman."
The more I saw of the subject of this sketch, over nearly all the fifteen years of his unusually prolonged and varied officiate, the more I explained his case by the excusing consideration that he was where he was without his own consent. He was naturally a quiet, amiable, unambitious man, full of official activity and ability, in a prescribed line, or under the instructions of superiors. Thus commended at Sydney, he accepted, as matter of course, or of duty, his appointment by the Governor, in 1839, to the Superintendency of the Port Phillip community, a small body as yet, although making an ominously loud noise upon the far southern skirts of the vast colonial expanse of which Sydney was then the official and business centre. The charge did not then seem to threaten to be an anxiously large one, and in any case his inauguratory office might hardly remove him from the accustomed instruction of superiors. What he did not bargain for was that the child he went to nurse was to rush almost from the cradle into manhood; and the little "settlement" he began his reign with to be, ere he had done with it, the most notable, if not indeed actually the most important, colony of the empire.
Personal Recollections of Early Melbourne and Victoria Part 3
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